Treating Tooth Fractures
While cracked, chipped or fractured teeth are probably most common with children due to their high level of physical activity, they can happen to anyone. Auto accidents, impacts to the face, sports injuries, falls and simply chewing can result in a tooth, or teeth, being damaged. Not only is this unattractive, it's unhealthy.
Some Common Causes for Tooth Fractures
- Biting on something hard, such as popcorn kernels or ice.
- Fillings and root canals can make some teeth weaker and more prone to fractures
- Piercings of lips and/or tongues. The metal studs impact teeth every time you talk or move your mouth and tongue. Bacteria is harbored in the sites of these metal insertions, elevating the chance of infection, which if unhandled, can lead to more serious issues, such as tooth loss.
- History of root canal treatment
Symptoms of a Fractured Tooth
Even if you can't see a fracture, some indications you might have one include:
- Pain when biting down on something
- Sensitivity to hot or cold
- Pain may vary and be erratic
- Isolated deep pocket/abscess
- Sometimes no symptoms at all
Types of Tooth Fractures and Cracks
Chipped Tooth— This is usually minor. The chip itself can sometimes be reattached to the tooth or replaced by using a simple bonding material. If there is a jagged edge, it might only take a dental file to smooth it out.
Craze Lines— These are tiny, vertical cracks in the enamel. They pose no problems for tooth health but may cause concern for aesthetic reasons. Craze lines can become discolored from coffee, tobacco, red wine and certain foods. Quite often, teeth whitening or veneers can restore teeth with craze lines to a healthy, radiant white.
Fractured Cusp— This occurs when the surface of the tooth where chewing occurs detaches due to a crack. Often this separation occurs in close proximity to a filling. With this type of fracture, you may not feel any pain because the pulp of the tooth, where nerves and blood vessels are located, isn't agitated. The way to fix it usually involves a new filling or, if necessary, a new crown.
Cracked Tooth— If a vertical crack in a tooth travels below the gum line, the tooth may need to be extracted. A crack of this kind can affect the pulp of the tooth and lead to infection.
Split Tooth— This term refers to a tooth that has a vertical crack extending below the gum line severe enough that it actually separates the segments of the tooth. Sometimes part of the tooth can be saved, or the whole tooth needs to be removed.
Vertical Root Fracture— This is a fracture that begins in the root and moves upward toward the surface of the tooth. Because the crack begins where it can’t be seen, it may go untreated for some time. The cause is usually the result of an infection in the gum and bone. An extraction may be necessary in order to eliminate further destruction to the surrounding tissues and bone.
When a tooth breaks off near or just below the gum line, our doctors can perform a crown lengthening procedure. By surgically removing and/or reshaping the gum, more of the tooth is exposed. In this way, a restoration, such as a crown, can now be created that will fit over the top of the remaining tooth.
When should a fractured tooth be extracted?
Sometimes a crack or a fracture occurs to a tooth below the gum line, making it hard to see. Using various techniques and instruments, our doctors will determine where the fracture is as well as the position of the tooth in the jaw. How deep the fracture goes will be a deciding factor in whether to extract the tooth or not. Some cracks may not go as deep, and a root canal may save the tooth. However, if the crack extends deep into the root and bone, there may be no way to save it, and extraction is the only solution.
When an extraction is necessary, Dr. Moshrefi and Daneshmand perform gentle extraction techniques, putting great attention on your comfort and ease during the entire procedure. They will go over one of the tooth extraction methods offered.
Forced Orthodontic Eruption
Sometimes a fractured tooth needs to be removed. Instead of performing surgery to extract a tooth, this technique causes a tooth to be removed over a period of time. The teeth surrounding the targeted tooth are bracketed, and the tooth to be removed is subject to constant, light pressure. This causes the tooth to erupt over a period of time, enabling an easier extraction of the tooth.
This method, when possible, is less invasive and retains more bone structure. Once the tooth is removed, our skilled doctors can prepare the site for a replacement, such as an implant.
Restore Your Smile
When you are suffering from a fractured tooth or suspect you might have one, our highly trained periodontists in Beverly Hills can help you. Dr. Moshrefi and Dr. Daneshmand have been successfully helping dental patients for many years, providing skilled, high tech procedures in a calm and comfortable environment.